Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Heidegger again on the train. Finished the Being and Time excerpts. It is all so gapingly profound and impenetrable at the same time. I like the feeling of reading something really big and clever that is forever out of reach for me. I love the language sometimes too... Like this: "Time needs to be explicated primordially as the horizon for the understanding of Being".

Not much work to do today. Went for a swim at lunchtime, which I enjoyed. Called MJ walking back. I am missing her very badly this time.

In the evening went out with work people, including Pat, Andy and the French Bloke, and some pleasant clients to a place called the Bluebird Restaurant on the Kings Road. Quite swanky and the food good. Had lots of wine and chatted. Left at 9:30 and made it home at 11. Slept on the train. Called my baby and then slurred off to bed.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Listened to my brainwashing tape on the train this morning, which I'd not done for a while. Makes me feel very positive.

Must be in some kind of strange cycle, with contact from university friends and so on lately, and a thirst for reading philosophy again. It was The Continental Philosophy Reader this morning.

Found myself reading excerpts from Heidegger's Being and Time. Heidegger has always fascinated me, but makes my head want to explode. It is far easier to read books about Heidegger than read Heidegger himself. But reading it slowly again this morning and again on the way home I found it a mite easier going than I remembered. Being and Time asks an incredibly simple question in a very complicated way: what is the meaning of being. In the introduction he says... "Every inquiry is a kind of seeking... Inquiry, as a kind of seeking, must be guided beforehand by what is sought. So the meaning of Being must already be available to us in some way." He is saying that to be able to ask a question you must already have some idea of the answer, and that we all have "a vague, average understanding of Being"(a phrase that made me think of Rilke's angels for some reason). His project is to make that understanding sharper.

Bumped into Reuben as I stepped from the train, and a quick chat walking through the station. So nice to encounter a friendly face in the multitudes. Told him again how much I like his bag of helicopters site.

Quiet day at work. Phoned MJ, emailed Katie, and Tim Julian. Went for a walk in the sun with the FB this lunchtime and ended up for a short while in the Dove where I had a glass of wine and watched him fork into sausage and mash as we sat near the fire. Max has a lively night last night of what appeared to be contractions but no actual birth yet. She was scrubbing the floors today apparently and told the FB that she was possessed.

Cleverly slunk off for a swim in the middle of the afternoon, and then back to the office for a meeting till six. Home and chatting again to my beloved MJ before what will hopefully be an early night.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Travelled into work from Edgware. Mason up early making coffee and toast for me, which was very nice. Despite this, quite Mondayish by the time I arrived at Hammersmith, but was cheered by a lovely message from MJ at work.

Had to get hacking fairly swiftly, but made time to send that nice Weezer a birthday e-card. Otherwise little happened today other than doing bits of work. Went out for a chilly half-an-hour stroll by the river, calling MJ as I turned back towards the office.

The French bloke sent me this today: “This is a strange poem. I was doing some research and was reminded of a rare event called a "stone baby". It happens when the foetus (usually at a late stage) dies. In rare cases, instead of expelling it, the body converts it to calcium carbonate - in effect limestone. It is almost unknown today in the western world, in fact there are only three hundred reports ever, anywhere. Interesting that this lady chose to use a poem to resolve the loss. I don't know if it is good poetry, but the way she illustrates the way ferocious, maternal, protective instinct took over 30 years too late really moved me.” You can find the Stone Baby poem by Sheila Hamilton here.

Very cold again tonight and my house took ages to heat up after standing cold all weekend. Feeling a bit miserable about missing MJ this evening but was delighted to have yet another contact from my past… Tim Julian who was at Warwick with me, and I’ve not seen for 23 years sent me an email having been in touch with Andy. Excellent!

Sunday, November 27, 2005

A late thanksgiving meal with Mum and Mason. Snapped this photo as an artistic symbol of the deadly menace mankind poses to the turkey.

Mason actually cooked a goose. I can't remember the last time I ate goose, but this one was tasty and a little bit gamey. There were plenty of giblets which went unused, including a long string of neckbones which I had a quick gander at.

Had a nice day relaxing day however, talking to them and to Robert and Tanya, and Diane who turned up later, and was discussing a possible move to Brighton.

Mum's evil back had struck the day before and she was hobbling a bit, but she self-medicated with muscle relaxant pills and gin. Helped her in the final stages of making a pumpkin pie. Loads of food and so on.

In between all the festivities I carried on reading my Robert Frost poems, and spoke to Toby, who was marking books on a Sunday afternoon, which sounds a pain.

Spoke to MJ twice. I am really missing her. She was a bit traumatised, however, to learn that I'd taken the opportunity to show her Popo the clown pictures to Mum and Mase.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Woken by Ken this morning phoning to double check that I will be attending his 75th birthday party next Saturday. Scrambling downstairs to the phone I realised I had overslept due to a traumatised body clock. He sounded in fine form, and was saying their place in Aix was now ready, and that he had been working on the satisfying business of writing a biographical note for an academic translation he has been working on. Looking forward to seeing him next week.

Otherwise feeling sluggish today. Went for a short walk down to the sea via the Pavilion. I was wearing my beany hat which gives me a large and pear-shaped head. I have a wrong face for hats unless they have large brims. Cold here, although in Brighton there is no snowfall as there has been in other parts of the country.

Then off to London to see Mum and Mase. Long journey due to repair work on the tracks. I didn't feel like writing today, however, and the battery on my ipod shuffle ran out so I brooded on things in a Heathcliffian manner. On the Victoria line tube sat next to seven or eight people who had just been to church or some religious studies meeting and were arguing, passionately, about Heaven. One man was saying that heaven was the one thing all people agreed about in the world.

Happy to see Mum and Mase, and tell them about my adventures in the Colonies while gorging on food and wine. Then watched a film called The Road to Perdition with Tom Hanks which I enjoyed despite it being a bit miserable.

Talked to MJ before sleeping. She was feeling Christmassy and thinking about decorating. She also helpfully suggested I wear a Peruvian hat, with strings, to keep warm and emailed me some examples like this one, which is a lonely hat.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Overslept this morning... Cold when I woke up. Off to work, reading more about Robert Frost. Apparently he came to England to cultivate Edward Thomas before the first world war. Thomas is in my opinion the best minor poet in English in the twentieth century. Frost is very enjoyable however.

Otherwise work inoffensive and me feeling a bit dull. Nothing much on. Went to the pub at lunchtime for an hour with Marilyn, Mike, Debs and Mandy. Lurked in the work bar before slinking off to meet Paul who was haunting Hammersmith with a small aquarium. Then headed homeward and slept happily on the train, arriving in Brighton in good enough time to score myself a nice Chinese meal.

Spoke to Mum and I will slip up to Edgware at the weekend. Chatted to Sophie too.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Back to work. Managed to get up on time and so on. Work was okay but jetlag made me feel very disconnected from things. Quite nice to see the Gnome, and had a quick chat with the French Bloke. Apparently Max is due to drop at any moment. She is finally off work but apparently went for a bicycle ride this morning.

Email from First Matie and will hook up with her next week. Spoke to Shaila too, who is back in Blighty. Otherwise not an arduous day, thank God. Cold though!

Home and spoke to MJ who is forking into turkeys in Brooklyn for thanksgiving with Weezer and Troy.

I am a bit braindead but reading Robert Frost on the train. Lots of images in the poems about leaves, which having seen a little of New England is hardly surprising. Enjoying one particularly this morning called A Leaf-Treader. I like the opening...

I have been treading on leaves all day until I am autumn-tired.
God knows all the color and form of leaves I have trodden on and mired.
Perhpas I have put forth too much strength and been too fierce from fear.
I have safely trodden underfoot the leaves of another year.

There is something quiet that I enjoy in his work, which reminds me a bit of Edward Thomas. He's got that understated knack that Yeats has of making things rhyme without the rhyme drawing attention to itself too much.

Got a very nice email from a guy called Simon Guettier who has works as a broadcaster. He stumbled across this blog and has lived in Brighton, and West London, went to Warwick University as well as hailing from Jersey in the Channel Islands (you can't have it all I suppose).

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Landed in thick fog at Heathrow. Amazing how, with no visibility, the pilot can land a 747-400 the size of a skyscraper, so gently. As we touched down it was so foggy that we still seemed to be in cloud.

Lots of tiresome lurking in the airport, decided I needed to do something about my new case which is identical to everyone-else's case. Then Zombied home from Heathrow to Brighton. I don't know what these people have been doing here. It is bloody freezing. Anton told me that it had been down to minus 7 in the last week.

Home and bought some chewy brown bread ate, then slept for a couple of hours on the sofa. Caught up with Mum on the phone and lurked about for a bit.

In the evening went out to the Tin Drum with Anton. Collecting him, had a quick chat with Anna who will be on TV yet again having been interviewed on the train about people using computers in the carriages. Anton on good form and looking unnaturally healthy. He's off to Madrid tomorrow.

Missing MJ. Had a couple of good chats with her. It is unnatural to be parted.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Boo. The day of leaving. Pathetic fallacy kicked in and it was stormy and raining hard. Gloomily looking at the weather map. Storms all along the eastern seaboard boded ill for the flight.

MJ and me however made good use of our last day. Went to the Hokey Pokey again... but this time armed with paper and pens and made mind maps and ate large food and drank coffee and had important, top-level discussions. Then home to make phone calls and so on and make the most of MJ's wonderful company.

Later went back to the Chinese retaurant next to the railway station, for mountains of noodles and ribs. Then I caught the train and headed back to Jamaica station, after saying wretched goodbyes to MJ. Leaving her offends the gods as I have said before.

Made it to the airport fairly easily and early. Lurked about feeling glum and failing to find something in the bookshop. Phoned MJ who had been crying. Went to the bar there and drank a solitary beer before boarding the plane. Amusing dialogue with a woman behind the bar who was Spanish speaking. I asked her what beer she had... One sounded unusual... San Morales. When I got it, it turned out to be Sam Adams. Mixture of her accent and my English ears.

Very happy to hear the pilot say that we were expecting a smooth flight to England. He was a lying bastard however and there was 5 big hours of hellish jolting & lurching turbulence. I was sat in the twitching tail of the jumbo too to make it worse. Decided the only option was to drink heavily but due to the freaking turbulence the Stewardesses were few and far between. Had one glass of wine, and eked it out over two hours. Muttering to myself about how I would never, never, never under any circumstances, ever fly again.

A train to Babylon (calling at Amityville) at Jamaica station. An omen if ever I saw one.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Walt Whitman twice today. Was reading his poems, which suddenly make much more sense to me having seen New England. Found myself really enjoying them. Then later to the Walt Whitman mall with MJ who was on an unsuccessful shoe hunt.

Feeling somewhat sad that it was my last full day. Collected Jack and Kate from school and did some more shopping and ate some pizza. In the evening we rented a film from Blockbusters about mutant ants attacking people, and we all watched this together. Before the film started Jack became a fantastically good monster. He was lurking under the bed and doing zombie eyes and speaking in demonic voices and making everyone scream by trying to drag people into his lair.

Anne and Mike have been very kind and hospitable to me, and I had a nice chat with Mike, who had come to collect Genny before the scary film came on. Genny wasn't very impressed with not being able to watch the movie though.

After the film had a long conversation with Kate who gave me a corner of her favourite snowman blanket. She is a very smart and funny girl, and we are getting on excellently, which I am very pleased about.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

A morning, so there must be a diner. Denny's next to the motel I’m told is something of an American institution. Did it justice by eating a large breakfast, but later was slightly regretful that I didn’t eat a dish on offer called Eggs over My Hammy.

Then into Salem. Went to the Witch Dungeon Museum and The Witch History Museum. In the dungeon museum there was a re-enactment of some of the trial by two actresses on stage, and then we shuffled downstairs into a recreation of the dungeons that the witches were stored in for safekeeping. These dungeons were full of dodgy looking waxworks, but it gave you an idea of scale -- especially the very small cuboardy spaces for witches to be tidied into.

Thence to the Witch History Museum, passing a statue of Elizabeth Montgomery, the actress who played Samantha in ancient TV show Betwitched. Amusing tale of the statue's recent unveiling here. The museum was another enjoyable waxwork tour with much the same story of the bizarre accusations. Popped into some nearby witchy shops and managed to snap MJ in a witch hat too. Salem trades on its Witchy past, with the local police even having witches on their badges.

Then off to a nearby graveyard, which I really enjoyed. The gravestones blade thin and some of them small and toothlike.

From here we did a spot of shopping, where I bought a pair of boots at a bargain price and had some Dunkin' Donuts, which were fairly nasty. Then the long drive back to New York with MJ in the driver's seat. Passed a town called Mystic. We didn't stop but it would be great to have a Mystic teeshirt. Long journey home. New York seeming huge and full snakes of speeding traffic, but I was a bit blurry with jetlag. At night, Manhattan from afar always looks to me like a kind of immense twinkling castle.

Fond farewells with Weezer and Troy in Brooklyn, then back to Lawn G'oiland.

Two small, blade-thin, toothlike gravestones, and the lecture theatre of the dungeon museum.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Off to Salem! Breakfast of home-made waffles with Mike and Anne. Mike then drove us to the care hire place where we got a gold car, he amusingly offered us a crucifix for protection. I enjoyed the drive into Brooklyn, and made me feel like we were in the The French Connection.

Picked up Weezer and Troy who were armed with an interesting assortment of CDs, including some Bluegrass music played by people with eight or twelve fingers per hand. Lots of tunes in the car, and was taught by demonstration how to yee-haw! by my travel companions.

New England beautiful -- I loved all the trees and the wide open spaces, and imagining what life would be like in the small and pretty towns we drove through. "Fall" more advanced here than in Long Island and the whole country seemed to be covered in leaves, and people busily engaged in apparently futile attempts to clear their lawns.

Noticing again for the nth time how many flags there are in the US. Stars and stripes everywhere. Pride and patriotism runs so deeply, and permeates everything. Take the Long Island Rail Road for example. On the side of the carriages there are crossed stars and stripes with the legend Proud to Serve. It is nothing for a car seller for example to have 10 stars and stripes fluttering outside the garage -- even when he is selling not US manufactured cars. As a jaded European it seems almost Orwellian at times, but that probably says more about European history and the dangers of nationalism, than the pride people in the US show in their flag.

The journey took us longer than we expected, we got lost a few times and there was much pouring over maps and so on. But we arrived tired but safely in the cold and dark, checking into a motel and then going into town for a really nice meal and drinks. The old part of Salem atmospheric as we drove around it at night. Back to the motel and much needed sleep.

Driving down streets that should be in films in Brooklyn...

Friday, November 18, 2005

MJ and me into our suits and off to the family court this morning. Sat about for three hours waiting for the case to be called, and eventually it was postponed due to a legal technicality. Very Dantesque, with people discussing their cases with a sleaze of lawyers. Edward Hopper scenes of people sitting alone but preoccupied in the strangely featureless corridors with big squares of bright light from the sun through windows.

MJ tuning into all the misery about the place. Gave her some paper to draw evil clown pictures as a distraction, and we spoke to Johanna and Michael. After discussions with her lawyer we were released from this and drove through the resplendent trees of long Island back to the Hokey Pokey again (the other places being closed) for lunch, and a much needed glass of wine.

Collected the Kate from school and went to the Sweet Shop in Northport. Kate doing her extraordinary "raptor" hiss, which I copied in the car and painfully clicked my jaw. Back to school to collect Jack from his chess class. Enjoyed seeing all the kids playing chess.

Home, and quick reprises of dust bunnies, duvet monster and heroscape.

In the evening MJ and I went off to see a movie called Capote about the life of Truman Capote. Centres around the writing of his book "In Cold Blood". Really well acted and interesting film.

Very cold tonight. Chess club below...

Thursday, November 17, 2005

After the children went off to school, MJ and I went to the nearby Hokey-Pokey diner to talk each others heads off. I like diners. Not a shred of fibre to be found there of course, but made do with immense piles of eggs, bacon, pancakes, sausages and coffee, and I enjoyed the smiling turkey posters for forthcoming Thanksgiving.

A lively discussion with MJ about the diner's name. MJ wrongheadedly debating the fact that the dance is actually The Hokey Cokey. Apparently in the American version they poke their butts in and not merely their left leg and so on. No idea which is the authentic one of course, but just found this which suggests that Hokey Cokey was invented to mock Catholicism.

Then a lovely walk through woods by the coast to burn off some of the breakfast excesses. A fresh morning and Long Island is beautiful in a highly-coloured late autumn. We walked along discussing haiku, and Buddhism and how we were both big and clever.

Afternoon, and an immense bout of playing games with Kate and Genny. First was duvet monster where they leapt about being chased by a snappy-mouthed duvet with a taste for children's toes. Then there was the dust bunny game: me growling at them shuffling about on the floor and allowing them to scream piercingly. In fact five year old Genny screamed so piercingly into my right ear that it rang afterwards for a minute or so.

Finally we told stories. The girls contributed scenes and the plot had to accommodate Genny's demands to be a wild cat or a werewolf. The two little divas definitely had to be in the story too. I mistakenly started the first story with only a single princess. This had to be quickly adapted to two twin sister princesses with different colour eyes but even then there was some suspicion that the other had got the better deal. In the story, the princesses spotted a crocodile in the moat of their castle but nobody believed them till it tried to bite off the king's head. The next story was about two vampire twins who were terrorising the local village.

All in all really good fun, and I have definitely lost my invisibility with Kate.

Also played a game called Heroscape with Jack. Which is a bit like chess with different pieces of things like a T. Rex or robotic cyber beings or special troops all fighting each other. Quite fun too once I got understood it. As each piece is killed off Jack describes the scene in his head of how this eventuality happened.

After the kids went off to see their dad, MJ and I had an enormous Chinese meal and rented Amityville 2. I was sleepy by then but I managed not to scream in front of her. Interestingly Amityville is quite nearby in Long Island.

Two blurry views down at the water from the path. Need use a camera rather than my phone. The lens isn't that great and gets covered in crap and so these are unusable pictures... An impression however.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Hurrah. Made it to America. THE most unspeakable flight. Hours of lurching turbulence. Fortunately the pilot said it may be bumpy before we took off so I took my emergency valium -- sadly this had worn off by the time things had got really bad five hours later. The landing too was horrid. Normally I don't mind landings but the lower we got the more the horizon slid up and down and the plane rocked from side to side. The massive air pocket we hit about thirty seconds before landing where the plane dropped like a stone did nobody any good. A wave of hysterical laughter once we had slammed and then lurched horribly on the runway.

Disembarking, and one of the first things that always hits me about America is its distinctive smell. It's hard to describe; it's sugary and with a hit of cinnamon.

Journey to Kings Park Long Island fairly easy. Travelling around these parts seeming quite familiar these days. Asked directions of a bizarre barking bullfrog-looking woman in the information booth at Jamaica station and soon found myself in the arms of my beloved Mary Jane with the wind whipping her hair about, and all the evils of the journey faded.

Lovely afternoon and evening. Anne, MJ's sister in law is pregnant and so we went flower shopping. MJ naturally had to have flowers too. Was very pleased that Jack and Kate patently happy to see me. Had cleverly armed myself with a bag of toys for them and little Matthew and Genny which didn't hurt.

Had a nice meal with Anne and MJ with wine. Then playing with the kids for a bit, and being slobbered on by the two dogs before I had to crash. Am staying up in Mike and Anne's top floor apartment. Kings Park is very quiet at night, and I drifted off to sleep happily listening to the wind and rain in the trees.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Preparing for my flight to New York. Running about the place. Just back from a fast beer with Anton in The Eddy. Now poking the last bits into my case. Need to be up tomorrow at an unspeakable 4:50am.

Increasingly cheery about my visit! Lurked out at lunchtime to buy a new case and en route took this snap of a full-moon-swollen Thames that was threatening to spill over the bank. Foreground Mark, background The Gnome.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Monday morning. Creative department had been moved again and I wandered about the agency till someone told me where they'd put it. Greeted by a nest of boxes and strewn stuff. Hard for me and The Gnome to focus.

Flew into a rage with an unfortunate suit. Guilt forced me to go out and buy a bunch of freesias for her to say sorry afterwards. She forgave me.

Otherwise nothing much happening. Looking forward massively to seeing MJ! Feeling a tad rubbish physically though. Enjoyed working on a poem, however, rewriting one of the starts I put on here in the spring into something more formed.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Introspective day, very enjoyable but little blogworthy. Working on bits and pieces of poetry and fiddling with other bits of writing.

Feeling somewhat run down, and so welcomed a quiet weekend. Spoke to lovely MJ of course and to Anton.

When on the phone lately or listening to the radio I have got into the habit of doing bitmap doodles. Some of them end up looking quite pretty.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Up at the crack of dawn cleaning the bathroom to prevent the plumber from contracting cholera when putting in the new toilet bowl. However the toilet bowl was delivered with a chip in it, so it is the bucket business till after I return from the states again. D'oh.

Had a tidying frenzy. Threw away lots of things -- ancient payslips and statements from accounts that don't exist any more. Quite therapeutic. Thinking of Alan Sugar's comment that a piece of paper left on a desk represents a decision not made. Am trying to interrogate pieces of paper these days. What are you? Are you the sort of piece of paper that I will ever realistically do anything with? etc. It is a lengthy process.

Happy to lie low today. Bumped briefly into Anna and Anton and some friends of theirs. Anton happy to be back in Blighty. Otherwise spent lots of time talking to MJ and my mum on the phone. Remembering with Mum about my grandmother's penchant for practical jokes. I'd forgotten the story for example of the shop dummy she used to put in the lane to thoughtfully fake a road accident for arriving guests.

Watched junk TV like a zombie tonight, and really enjoyed it. Haven't done that for a long time.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Thinking about Wilfred Owen who was killed the day before the First World War ended on this day in 1918. I wonder how his poetry would have evolved should he have survived.

Started reading The Monk and the Philosopher today on the train, a book Sophie had given me a long time ago but had slipped down the back of the bookcase. Interesting dialogue between a father and a son -- the father a French Philosopher, and his son who became a Buddhist monk who gave up a promising scientific career in research to sit at the feet of Tibetan masters.

Disembarking from the train at Victoria, and a touch in the back and a whiff of sulphur and there was Spooner looking brown and slim and exceedingly well. Slitty-eyed twinkle present and correct.

Dragged myself into work feeling less than lively. However, the agency has won a few pitches lately and there was a cheery feeling about the place. Caught up with the French Bloke at lunch, and saw Max too. She is very close now to full term.

Spoke to lovely MJ a little after lunch, she had been looking at animal graves in America on the internet. Particularly liked Mr Chicken's grave. Mr Chicken was a rooster whose original legs were frozen off, and was given acrylic ones by the vet. It became something of a celebrity, but met a sticky end being mauled by raccoon six months later.

Free drinks in the bar at 4:30 which was an excellent way to start a weekend. Ended up going to the OSP to see Phil singing karaoke. Very nicely as it happened -- and there were some very earnest performers there.

Home and asleep on the train again.

Sitting at the feet of Masters part two... Below is a photo of Sophie and me with Martin Warner, taken at his retirement do the other week. Also a photo I nicked from the BBC of people marking their remembrance in the ruins of bombed out Coventry Cathedral.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Off work again today with writer's gyp. Ventured out to the quack, and a spot of food shopping as there was little to eat. Slept a lot. Chatted to MJ at lunchtime. I will have to drag my sorry butt back to work tomorrow. At least I didn't have a lengthy work phonecalls in my bed today.

Watched a wonderful and traumatising documentary on BBC 2 tonight called The Last Stand. Where a TV crew had unrestricted access the recent pull out of settlers from the Gaza Strip. It was like some Shakespearian tragedy. Militaristic and extremist husband with three guns, and his extremist warrior wife who developed cancer as the stand off developed.

I felt incredibly sorry for the settlers. They were incredibly brave but, to my mind, extremist and misguided. I also felt sorry for the soldiers of the Israeli Army who had to go in and drag the people away, and of course the Palestinians in the occupied territory... In fact for everyone. But ended up feeling most sorry for Datya Itzhaki (pictured with a headscarf after she lost her long hair) and her poor children.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Zombie day. Took the day off work feeling wussy. Got roped into a long telephone conversation while in bed about member get member communications, and had to work through some bits with Mike on the phone. Otherwise slept a lot. Slunk out into Brighton for a few provisions. It was bright and nice.

Day redeemed by talking to my beautiful MJ. We are most cheery that I will be over there soon. MJ sent me a picture of Carhenge in the Nebraska. Makes me want to write a travel book with her called Stonehenges of America.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Not a blogtastic day. Still feeling a little out of sorts but enjoyed a refresher listen to my brainwashing tape this morning.

Work better today and travelled with the Gnome to another agency after hours to presented some concepts which went down quite well.

Straight home tonight and managed to relight the boiler after it had been blown out, which was a boon after the ghastly struggles I had with the boiler in Thornton Avenue.

Booked my tickets and holiday for a week off to visit MJ. Called her this evening, as she was laughing at Anton who was messaging her from NY.

Mineral water tonight thank God. And now, joyously to bed relatively early.

Monday, November 07, 2005

A bit rough and ropy. Sluggish in the brain parts at work, which was a bit frustrating. Had to work hard to be positive today, especially as me and the Gnome had a hideous amount to do. Managed to scrape half an hour to walk by the river which was very enjoyable. Pleasant day, walked along talking to MJ, plotting my next trip to the colonies, as crows and seagulls and geese and ducks and helicopters all made themselves heard.

Saw Maddog in the evening. Very good to see Bob, as ever. Had a nice Chinese meal in Soho, and generally caught up, telling me a lot about Milly his daughter, talking about Buddhism and Meister Eckhart. He also nicely gave me a beautifully-presented box of Japanese bean cakes as a belated birthday present. Very tired by the time I got home, and talked to MJ again for a bit before sloping gratefully off to bed.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Bought a new moleskine notebook today. I am very snobby about them. There's something about having a moleskine notebook which gives your jottings the proper respect. Walked down to the sea and sat in the cafe in the company of my new notebook.

The weather was wild and stormy with a real gale, and stinging rain. The sky a dark blue grey, which touched the sea and shoreline with dark smudges of rain. The sea was almost khaki green and very rough, as you can see from the pictures.

Really enjoyed the drama of it bursting over the groynes. Drank coffee, and watched the big waves roll by the pier for a long time. It felt like being at sea, apart from the fact there was no movement.

Afterwards walked down by the sea looking at the strange flotsam. Saw several mermaid's purses, and storm-broken cuttlefish, and odd clumps of shells which I think were broken off barnacles.

Matty called me and after I walked home and changed clothes I joined him and Taranjit and Craig in the Battle of Trafalgar. They'd had a great time at Lewes, although they looked a little jaded after their exertions.

I was rather surprised to learn that Matty boy had felt like a quick swim on Friday night after I left, and had simply done so in the November sea at 1:00 am. A long chat with these three before they set off to back to London.

I had an enjoyable evening at home. This is one of those weekends that I wish would stretch for several more days. I feel very creative.

Spoke to my darling MJ. Plans are afoot with Weezer for An Interesting Trip when I next visit the New World.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

John the plumber & his taciturn sidekick came at 8:30 in the morning. Turns out that the whole toilet needs replacing due to cracks and antique workings. This leaves me struggling with buckets for another week. Talking to John afterwards I learned that he is a passionate diver, and has even won an award for the most dives made, a previous winner being Jacques Cousteau which necessitated him flying to Las Vegas and giving a speech. He told me about swimming with sharks too, to get good photos of them.

Had a long chat with MJ today. We are missing each other a great deal. We were feeling very cheerful talking about my next visit and she also floated the idea that Matty boy wasn't to blame for my hangover.

I really enjoyed life today. But found there were just not enough hours today to do all the Peter Kenny things I wanted to do. A while ago I started doing some bitmaps with the paint thing on the computer. Now I am doing a bitmap odyssey (a rough first page of which can be seen here). Also played a bit of guitar, worked on my Coventry poem, and generally pottered about.

In the evening walked off to a massive firework display at Sussex County Cricket Ground with Anna, Anton, Baby Klauds, Brian, Christian, Jane and Jon. Thousands there, lots of excitable kids running about on the pitch making it look like a big LS Lowry picture. It began to rain slightly just before the fireworks started but held off for the display. I love fireworks, and the gunpowdery smell in the air. There was a huge long and colourful display with such loud bangs that they made the earth vibrate. Baby Klauds unimpressed with this, and fell asleep.

Back to Anna and Anton's place where we scarfed red hot chili and I discovered a new function on my phone camera. Here is Christian twice and Anna.

Brooding this morning about the badness of Matty. Woke cirque couchant* with what can only be described as a hangover: entirely bad Matty boy's fault.

After another long and hard-working day, met Matty and his accomplices at the Reef bar at Victoria. (Also bumped into fellow hack Jez there, who I'd not seen for some time.) Matt and his amigos were off to Brighton this weekend to enjoy the burning of effigies and the fireworks at Lewes.

I explained to Matty that I wanted an early night and would melt quickly away once in Brighton.

Onto the crowded Brighton train and bad Matty had bought a bag of Magners ciders and a bag of ice and paper cups. I joined Matty and his crew in attending to those uninhibitedly and rather noisily, attracting one or two stony looks as we did so. His accomplices were Taranjit, Jeff and Craig (both American, and both nursing broken hearts. My opening line to Craig was, Hi Craig, how are you and that lovely Chiara getting on? D'oh.) And Bei and her nice Australian boyfriend Greg.

Train party: Matty glancing out into the darkness to plan more bad things. Jeff talking to Taranjit.

Sadly I failed to melt away & unaccountably ended up being loud and noisy in bars. Started off at the Battle of Trafalgar, a spit away from me, then on to The Caxton and ended up in the Heist bar, last visited with MJ. This becomes something of a nightclub later on with some sporadic and unimpressive dancing. As bad Matty commenced buying tequila at midnight I had a sudden insight: that now was an extremely good time to leave, which I did promptly. But clearly, judging by my head this morning, not nearly early enough.

Had not been to a dancey sort of place (other than silly work parties) for quite a while. It must be an age thing, but now I found myself looking at it all with amused detatchment. From this vantage all the little rituals and displays seemed transparent, and who fancied whom, who was available, who wasn't. I left the place very thankful for the fact that I have my MJ, and that my times of standing about trying to look cool, in the din of crap music, is something I will never have to do again. I never met anyone I liked in clubs & half the time you can't hear a word either. Young people. Bah. Ban them.

Phoned my darling MJ in America to convey the piercing brilliance of this thought when I got home. Lucky girl.

While at work I had spoken to Mum and Mase who had been visited, in a Kafkaesque way, by someone from the pensions department and were acting strangely.

Also talked to Paul who has started his temporary employment at Sainsburys. Typically he has thrown himself into it wholeheartedly and seemed to be really enjoying himself. He was even given a spot bonus for knowing the relative performance of the fish (up 19%) and the meat (down 30%) in the store. He said he was also thinking in three-dimensional space. Next week I am going to ask him what this means.

* Coiled snake-like from Keats Lamia. Have been looking for an opportunity for some time to use that.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Me and the Gnome have been hard at work for weeks. My new re-framing approach is working. Before we start any job, I say to the Gnome, "how can we do this quickly and easily", rather than sitting about moaning about it, or expecting it to be a nightmare. This has contributed to us cracking through work at pace, and working better as a team.

Broke off to speak to my beloved MJ. The only place I could talk to her was outside and it was blowing a strong gale. Beginning to plan when we next see each other again which is always an exceedingly cheery conversation.

In the evening went for a meal as an early celebration of Tracey's birthday. We went to The Old Fire Station again. Incredibly noisy that so ended up lipreading those people not sitting next to me. Apart from the FB of course whose voice can be marvellously penetrating. Other attendees were Bouncy Max, Mandy, Chris and his handily named girlfriend Christine. The evening broke up early, and I caught the 9:30 train to Brighton but still managed to fall soundly asleep on the train.

Below... Mandy pulling a face, and Tracey.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Watery day. A deluge this morning as I went to the station. The gutter in Guildford Road like a brook.

Read all of Lamia by Keats today on the train. Got to the line Martin had used: "Philosophy will clip an Angel's wings" in his lecture at the weekend. A hectic, rather hallucinogenic poem, which for some reason I had never read. With some resonance for Mike too...

Philosophy will clip an Angels wings
Conquer all mysteries by rule and line,
Empty the haunted air and gnomed mine--

The Gnome, blinking in the surface light, and me quickly got ourselves out of the office to work on a rebranding project. Walked in the rain along the river to the Ship where we drank rubbish coffees and mineral waters, ate Thai grub and came up with a few concepts. Slouched back to the office several hours later, a few tiresome conversations and then I was out of the office like a rat up a drainpipe.

An hour's walk by the sea tonight. Lovely and rough, with crashing waves. I went to my favourite groyne and spent ten minutes with the wind in my face, dodging spray and looking at the big muscly waves break on the pebbles below. There were clumps of seafoam, some the size of footballs, being blown up the beach.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Mary Jane in court this morning to negotiate for the children being allowed to leave the US. They meet again in a few weeks. Most of the day's thoughts revolving around this.

Otherwise lurked at home for the John the Plumber this morning.

J the P, peering into the cistern and shaking head, "Nasty!"
Me: "What do you expect... It's a toilet."

Naturally my cistern needs an obscure type of valve, not a bog standard one (arf!), to be specially delivered. So till Saturday there is an unsavoury struggling with buckets.

Into work late. Tired. People kept giving me lots of tedious work to do which was far from optimal.

I am on mini-health kick, however, and the Gnome is copying me. For lunch I drank green tea and ate vine tomatoes, and a little humous, and a few oatcakes and fruits. The Gnome consumed a packet of six pitta breads, a family sized tub of humous and a bag of carrots.

And writing a short poem about Coventry Cathedral.